Inca rituals performed on children

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South America » Argentina » Salta » Salta
February 25th 2015
Published: March 4th 2015
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MUSEUM 2 was dedicated to showing ancient children (their bodies still frozen and preserved.)

The Incas believed mountains were gods or ‘apus’ who protected nearby communities and therefore they built structures on mountains for rituals (many of which were built in Salta.) The children had been dead but preserved in freezing temperatures after having had rituals performed on their bodies and having been sacrificed to the Gods. One of the ‘sacred’ mountains where children were found on was Mount Llullaillaco. Archaeological digs and expeditons are being carried out all the time and more and more objects from the Incas are still being discovered.We got to see many recent expeditions on video tapes.


Mount Llullaillaco is an inactive volcano located between Chile and Argentina. It is 6.739 metres high and used to mark the border between Chile and Argentina. It now forms part of the western mountain range. It’s name comes from Quechua. ‘Llulla’ means false and ‘llaco’ means water. Usually higher mountains have bigger water reservoirs but in this case, the water doesn’t flow through watersheds but emerges in small lagoons so it is considered ‘False water’ The moutains doesn’t have glaciers but just an accumulation of snow


Not only did the Incas build road systems paid for by payments made to tribute to Inca rule, brought the Quechua language and architecture but they brought their rituals which still form the basis of Andean culture today. One ritual is called Capacocha (meaning royal obligation) These ‘offering’ ceremonies would take place between April and July and were opportunities to give gratitude to Mana Huaco, the Inca ancestor who gave them corn seeds. Another ritual was the daughter of the locall ruler was married to the son of another local chief to reunite communities. Often children were offered up to Gods during rituals to keep the Gods happy which in turn would protect the universe.

Many of the rituals carried out on children, described in the museum were detailed and disgusting. We also got to see actual bodies preserved, in the same conditions they were found in wearing their ritual clothes. The important intricate details during these rituals were the ornaments placed on the childrens, thei direction in which their body faced (the sun or not), their clothes, their hair dos (usually they were braided), the shape of their skulls (often deformed to show their place in society) and their face paint. The children’s organs in the mummies found were all there, excluding the spleen for some reason. For the Incas life and death were not very different from each other. The dead people, preserved in the cold of the mountains were allowed to take part in the rituals of the living as if they hadn’t died (like in the cemeteries here – people going to graves, animism). In November, the month of the dead, the dead would be taken out of their tombs and allowed to take part in the rituals. Also, it ws believed that when burying a person, covering their head with the human hair of a wiser person would mean that they could transfer the thoughts and wisdom of the other person, so the heads of corpses were often decorated with human hair from another human being.


Shoes were very important to the Incas. Different shoes were worn in different parts of South America depending on the weather conditions (the desert or mountains). Some wore shoes made from camel leather, some from water wolves. Those who climbed mountains wore shoes made of five to eight layers of wool, which were folded and sewn with human hair and vegetable fibre. Shoes were also considered to protect people against evil spirits during festivals, and certain shoes were thought to carry special messages.


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